Breaking down is hard to do….

That sinking feeling when you look at the dash on the car and see a red light staring back at you….

The manual says stop and call a garage. So I did. My local. 80 miles away.

Your alternator’s gone. You have a range of about 10 miles. Bother. Got recovery? Yes.

A midday call to by insurer, recovery booked. You’re in a safe place so you’re not top priority. OK. We’re busy. So we’ll be with you by about 4pm. Not so ok.

Then a voicemail. Make that 5.

A chasing call from me at 6. We’ll be with you between 6.50 and 7.15.

Then a call from my breakdown provider to say “you must book a slot with us. Why didn’t you know that? We can offer you 8.30?” What happened to 7.15? Or 5, or even 4 for that matter! And why is it my fault I didn’t book a slot? I don’t know your working processes, convoluted as they are. That’s your job. It’s what I pay for.

Another call. 8.30 is now 10pm. And I’m f***ing furious.

Then Tim, a nice man from Bedford calls at 21.03. I’m on my way. I’ll be 10 minutes. By the way why did you book the job for 8pm? I didn’t , your guys did…….

Turns out car really isn’t going anywhere. Tim has a keen eye, and an even keener nose. One whiff of a smell he doesn’t like, engine off. Turns out alternator isn’t just failed, it’s smoking. About 60 seconds from going up in flames. It’s about 9.45 by this time

Only option is a flatbed to take us away. How long does it take to book the flatbed? To navigate the call centres, myriad of IT systems, driver logging screens and that same dispatch centre that wound me up earlier. Well it’s 9 minutes past 11. I walked back into my hotel room 5 minutes ago. And my hotel is only 5 minutes from the car.  So I make that about an hour and a quarter to book a pickup. Not see it arrive, load my car, wave it off into the distance, just book it.

Tim showed me his jobs for the day – hey we had time to kill. He’d done a 12 hour shift. I was job number 13 (typical) he spent an hour and a half on me, and an hour on lunch, plus 30 mins start up time getting to his first job. So he fixed 12 cars in 9 hours. That’s pretty good I reckon. I was his bad stat for the month.

Tomorrow he’ll get a call from his boss asking why the job took so long, the implication being Tim was taking it easy, or clocking off early. I can guarantee he wasn’t. He was looking after a customer, trying to win back some respect for his employer. But he’ll get grief for that because the KPIs say otherwise. The KPIs say he wasn’t working hard. Because the KPIs don’t measure how good a job he was actually doing. Despite someone’s best efforts they didn’t measure performance. Wrong KPIs.

The job will say I had a problem with the gearbox, because the rules say they can’t be fixed at the side of the road. They’re difficult.. If Tim had put in that it was an alternator issue, then he’d have to fill in countless other screens, run various tests including at least one we both agree was unsafe given the smoke. So his reports are incorrect because that’s about the only way he can actually do his job..

Breaking down is crap. It’s a pain. Someone who helps me out in my hour of need has the chance to win my respect, loyalty, advocacy. Tim scored 10 out of 10. His employer scores 0. Because they failed me. And perhaps even worse, they failed Tim.


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